Posted: February 17, 2014
When Masha Gessen's new book about Pussy Riot appeared on amazon in January, I bought that in a blink of an eye, but decided – I will hold off reading it till the moment when the audiobook is available as well, so that I can alternate reading and listening – after The Man Without a Face I realized that Gessen's stuff is best taken this way.
Great book! The more I read Masha, the more I realize I need to put all her previous books in my to-read list and catch up.
Given this is my reading blog, and not my Facebook page, I decided I won't spam it with too much liberal propaganda and atheism. Still, I want to make a few things clear – I am a hardcore atheist, who on top of that loves contemporary art, was always thrilled by all of Voina's actions (these guys rocked Auchan, huh – BTW, a great fiction book on Voina by Valery Panyushkin), and who found the trial of the three girls a complete aberration of law and common sense, coupled with ugly rape of the secular state by the church.
Gessen split her book in three parts, and each talks about and symbolizes one thing. Part one, the most interesting for me, is about Art. Short bios of the girls, formation of Voina, their actions and reactions. Voina rocked.
Part two, which was most known to me, as I have read court transcripts online as the case was broadcast, should have been called The Witchhunt. I had a long drive ahead of me this weekend, it was night time and lots of rain, the windscreen was dim and foggy – and the narrator's voice from my audiobook reconstructed the horror of the fake soviet style trial, the mockery of Russian justice. It's Miller's The Crucible staged live, with only exception they don't burn the witches alive in the frigging 21st century. Oh, at least that.
Part three, I would call it Gulag. Because today's Russian corrective colonies are just that, slave labour and no human rights. And then more slave labour. Also, to piggyback on Sochi toilets with no partitions between seats – well, obviously that's the way Russian jails are built. Surprise, surprise!
Anyway, the world has now seen a nice face of Russia, smiling and heavily made up, all shiny in the glittering snow and ice – and this book gives a great overview of the other side of the coin, both in freedom and behind bars, the side where no czar face or two-headed eagle is engraved. And it slowly gets murky, depressing, and heartbreaking. And, of course, it is as real as the gold medals and the new slopes.